American Pimp

What's so disturbing yet provocative about this documentary by Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) is that it essentially celebrates as well as interrogates its chosen subject. More precisely, it allows the pimps it interviews to celebrate themselves, offering them the equivalent of their own music videos in which to strut their stuff. Even if one disapproves of the results—it's hard not to, given the countless obfuscations and omissions ensured by such an approach—there's also more understanding of a certain kind than would come from a holier-than-thou polemic. One has to weigh the lift against the mystifications. There isn't the sort of analysis one would hope to find (the Hugheses even sidestep the issue of whether pimps are as important to prostitution as they once were), but at least one gets a pungent look at what makes being a pimp look attractive to some people in certain circumstances. Check it out for yourself; I've felt at least as conflicted about the Hughes brothers' other movies, but this one arguably accomplishes and says the most. 87 min.

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